Wow... interesting thread. For me (have been an L&D nurse in Southern California for 7 years), I see the doctor as part of the patients' team. I am an important part, and so is the OB. I have caught some babies, but I always prefer it when the doctor is there. What if something goes wrong that I am not qualified to handle? What if she bleeds and I can't stop it? What if there is some unforeseen complication that only presents itself at delivery? Rare, I know, but if it happens, I want someone with an M and a D after their name present.
That said, I totally agree that there are many patients don't take the responsibility to get themselves educated. They blindly follow their doctor and don't understand what is happening to them. Some don't care. Last weekend we had 4 (or was it 5?) inductions scheduled in a 12 hour period for the same doctor. I asked my patient why she was being induced and she said "Oh, Dr. D has a conference to go to and she wants me delivered before she goes". This was perfectly okay with my patient. I think for some people, from what I see in my fairly affulent patient population, there is this idea of the doctor as the person they have "hired" to "take care" of the delivery, much like you'd hire a caterer for a party. They just want to turn all the decision making over to the doctor and leave it at that. And if that is what they want, so be it. It sits funny with me on some level, but another way to look at it is that it is the other extreme of letting someone have the kind of birth she wants. If a patient wants to not think about anything, not have to decide, wants to leave all the choices to someone else and have a completely medical birth, that is her choice here in 2005. Like I said, it's not the way I would do it, but I gotta respect her wish.
What a great topic. I wonder how the OBs would feel if they knew we dicussed their relative usefulness. LOL!